In the State of Florida, the criminal offense of dealing, trafficking, or attempting to traffic stolen property is treated extremely seriously by the law. The legal definition of stolen property even extends to property that an offender should have been able to reasonably know was stolen. If a person receives a guilty conviction for dealing in stolen property, they may face a second-degree felony charge, which can result in up to 15 years in prison.
If you have been accused of dealing in stolen property, you need the counsel of an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to help you avoid the worst consequences of your criminal charges. A guilty conviction for a second-degree felony has consequences that will follow you for the rest of your life, greatly impacting your earning potential and ease of living.
Here at The Law Place in St. Petersburg, FL., our team of criminal defense attorneys have amassed 75 years of combined experience helping people just like you who have been accused of the theft of property and its sale. We provide all of our prospective clients with a free consultation and free case evaluation at no obligation so they can have a good idea of what they are up against and the legal path out of it.
Our phone lines are always open and are covered by the confidentiality outlined in the attorney-client relationship. For more information call our main office on this contact number: (941) 444-4444.
What Florida Law Has to Say About the Crime of Dealing in Stolen Property
The legal confines of the act of dealing in stolen property or attempting to deal in stolen property are contained within Florida Statute 812.019. This states that anybody caught selling, transferring, distributing, or disposing of stolen property is committing a serious crime. The same is true for a person who is doing any of the above with property that they should have had reasonable knowledge was stolen.
To find a defendant guilty of the above, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a level of reasonable doubt at trial:
- That the defendant had indeed trafficked the property or had at least attempted to.
- That the defendant was either aware that the property was stolen or should have had knowledge that the property was stolen.
If there is any doubt surrounding either of these facts, an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney from our law firm will be able to establish a firm defense with a solid chance of getting the alleged charges either downgraded in severity or dismissed in their entirety.
Defining the Important Terms Within Florida Statute 812.019
Florida law is extremely specific about how it defines the terms mentioned in the above Florida statute. The terms are defined as follows:
- Property – This is defined as any items that have value. It can include actual physical property (which is anything that grows on, can be found on, or is fixed to a person’s land), as well as more intangible things such as services, claims, rights, and privileges.
- Stolen property – This is defined as any of the above items that have been clearly criminally and wrongfully taken without due payment or transaction.
- To traffic – This is a definition that covers any act of selling, transferring, dispensing, dispatching, disposing of, buying, selling, possessing, receiving, using, or obtaining control of the stolen property as defined above. A person can also be accused of attempting to traffic stolen property if the prosecution can prove intent.
In the event that your St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer is able to prove that you had no intention to sell the stolen property, you will not be found guilty of your dealing in stolen property charge. However, it is still possible to receive a charge of either petit theft or grand theft.
The Penalties for a Guilty Conviction of Dealing in Stolen Property in Florida
If the prosecution finds you guilty of dealing in stolen property, the consequences and penalties can be surprisingly harsh. This is because dealing in stolen property is classed as a level five offense by Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.
Dealing in stolen property is likely to result in a second-degree felony if the charge goes through. This may result in up to:
- 15 years in prison.
- 15 years of probation on top of the prison sentence.
- A fine as high as $10,000, as per Florida Statute 775.083.
- A felony offense on your permanent criminal record.
If you are charged with dealing in stolen property, it is also possible to receive a first-degree felony charge. This is usually the case if the defendant was involved in initiating, organizing, planning, financing, managing, or supervising the theft of property. In cases of a first-degree felony guilty conviction, the jail term can be anywhere up to 30 years in prison.
As well as this, the Florida courts are more likely to extend harsh sentences to people who are classed as repeat or habitual offenders. Florida Statute 775.084 gives the court the power to increase sentences for repeat offenders.
The Life-Altering Impacts of Being Found Guilty of a Felony Offense
For any person accused of a first-degree or second-degree felony, securing legal representation by an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney from a reputable and able law firm is of the utmost importance.
This is because once you have been convicted of a first-degree felony or second-degree felony, the charges will stay on your permanent criminal record for the rest of your life. There is no legal way for a lawyer to get your record either sealed or expunged.
The consequences of felony-level criminal offense on your record are far-ranging and can include:
- Becoming far less competitive in employment, as all future employees will have access to your criminal record, even outside of the State of Florida.
- Trouble securing any form of credit or finance, including bank loans and mortgages.
- Impacts on future court cases, including important things such as family law in regards to custody battles.
- Problems obtaining specialist licenses and permits.
As you can see, as well as the actual impacts of a felony charge, your criminal record can seriously limit your future earnings and lifestyle potential.
This is why it is so important that you schedule a free consultation and receive legal advice from an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney about your situation as soon as possible.
How Inference of Knowledge Works in Relation to Dealing in Stolen Property
In order to prove a second or third-degree felony punishable by the above consequences, there must be proof or evidence that the accused knew the items in their possession were stolen or recently stolen.
Florida Statute 812.022 handles how proof of trafficking in property works in the following ways:
- Possession of recently stolen property – If the property in your possession is recently stolen, that is enough to classify as proof of knowledge.
- Purchase of goods below their fair market value – If it is the case that the defendant purchased the goods in question at a significant degree below the value of the property, this will be taken as proof unless a satisfying explanation can be given.
- Unusual sale of goods – If the stolen goods were purchased from a dealer who operates outside the realms of usual business or without proper indication of their ownership of the property, this will count as knowledge of the theft.
- Ignoring the owner’s name – In cases where there is a name other than the name of the dealer on the property, this will be taken as enough proof for knowledge of the theft.
- Vehicle ignition bypass – If the alleged stolen property is a motor vehicle and the ignition mechanism has previously been bypassed, or the vehicle’s steering wheel lock has been broken, then this is enough to prove knowledge that the vehicle was stolen.
Common Defenses for Dealing in Stolen Property in St. Petersburg, FL.
Every lawyer at The Law Place operates on a policy of personalizing and tailoring your defense strategy to the exact circumstances and facts surrounding your case. This way, the best evidence of an individual person’s innocence will be given every time.
However, there are a number of defensive precedents that have seen extensive past success defending those accused of stolen property offenses. These include:
- A satisfactory explanation that proves that you had no knowledge that the property in question had previously been stolen.
- The property was being sold or pawned at the request of another person, and therefore you did not have full knowledge of the history of the property.
- The alleged trafficking of the property was not within the legal bounds of Florida Statute 812.019.
- The property was not, in fact, stolen.
- A misinterpretation of the legal rights to dispose of property that was stolen by another person.
- Challenging of any of the methods of inference of knowledge listed in the section above.
- A misinterpretation of a situation where the accused believe that the stolen property was, in fact, either gifted or wholly abandoned.
- A case of mistaken identity surrounding the property’s owner.
- The person who claimed to be the owner of the property was claiming this falsely.
- A lack of suitable evidence to meet the burden of proof beyond the level of reasonable doubt.
When you choose a skilled attorney from The Law Place, you can be safe in the knowledge that all the facts around your case will be thoroughly investigated in order to identify any and all avenues of potential defense.
The Statute of Limitations in Cases of Dealing in Stolen Property
The statute of limitations when it comes to accusations of dealing in stolen property, in accordance with Florida Statute 812.035, is five years.
This means that you are able to be arrested for the alleged crime up to five years from the date it was supposedly committed. However, there are certain circumstances in which this period of time can be extended.
How Quickly Should You Hire a Lawyer If Accused of the Crime of Dealing in Stolen Property?
As with all criminal offenses in Florida and the rest of the United States, the quicker you secure counsel by a lawyer from a reputable law firm, the better chance you stand at avoiding the consequences of the alleged crimes.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are under the mistaken impression that they themselves will be able to talk their way out of the situation. This is not true. Instead, what these people are doing is giving more evidence to law enforcement for free.
You always have the right to request a lawyer as soon as the arrest occurs, and you should stay entirely silent until they arrive. If you do not, you may damage potential defenses.
As soon as you hire an attorney from our office, they will begin to compile evidence to build the strongest case possible for you before any of this evidence can become lost, damaged, or unavailable in any way. This, combined with the maximum amount of time before the trial begins, will give you the best chance of avoiding a guilty conviction for the crime.
How Much Will a Criminal Defense Attorney From The Law Place Cost?
We are sorry to say that there is no way we can give you an exact figure for the cost of defense on this website.
This is because the circumstances surrounding every alleged crime are different, as are the circumstances of each of our clients. The cost of defense will depend on the events that transpired, the evidence at hand, and the criminal history of the client.
However, our law firm believes that nobody should have to take a risk in securing reputable representation. We are committed to providing a clear total of costs after our free consultation has taken place and before any obligation is owed. This will be the final figure, and no extra costs or hidden fees will be applied after you receive it.
If you are unable to pay the quoted fee, do not fear, we will be able to figure out a personalized payment plan to pay for your defense in installments in a way that suits you.
Finally, you may believe that it is a waste of money to obtain the assistance of a reputable law firm. However, since dealing in stolen property is either a third or second-degree felony punishable with jail terms, huge fines, and a permanent criminal record, the cost is far outweighed by the potential consequences.
Contact The Law Place Today
If you have been accused of committing the offense of dealing in stolen property in St. Petersburg, Florida, you need the assistance of a skilled lawyer as soon as possible. If you are found guilty, you are looking at serious jail time, massive fines, and far-ranging impacts that will follow you for the rest of your life.
Here at The Law Place, our legal team has 75 years of combined experience providing highly tailored defenses for people in your exact position. To stand the best chance of getting the best results, call today and don’t waste any precious time.
We are happy to provide every person who calls our office with a free consultation, which will take place completely free of obligation and entirely confidentially. Our lines are always open and always manned, so you can call at any time that is convenient for you. Once we have the details of your accusations, we will be able to give you an exact figure for the cost of your defense and an overview of the strategy we will use to beat your charges.
For more information on how our skilled and experienced legal team can help you to beat the charges of dealing in stolen property, call our office today on (941) 444-4444!